Matt Stafford's career is winding down. He's suffered enough abuse in Detroit over the last 11 years to last 10 lifetimes. Now is the moment for him to stop being a team player and think about numero uno. If he comes to the same conclusion I have, it's clear numero uno needs to be somewhere other than Mo Town.
It's weird saying that because Stafford's played his entire career with the Lions, experiencing the same personal highs and lows as some of the other greats to play for Detroit (Barry Sanders, Calvin Johnson), but likewise suffering the same losing culture that permeates throughout the franchise. Now 32-years-old, it's time he focuses on trying to win with a new team.
Stafford has two years left on his contract (unless the Lions exercise an opt-out this offseason) and can use that as leverage to force a trade away from Detroit. Here's where he should focus his attention.
San Francisco 49ers
While the 49ers aren't going anywhere fast this year, they have one of the top rosters in the NFL when healthy and could be right back to Super Bowl contention next year with the right quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo is not that and, despite all the injuries the 49ers have suffered this season, they can judge him based on his performance the last two years. A good quarterback with all the offensive weapons the 49ers have (when healthy) would make this a formidable opponent in the NFC West next year. With all the speed the 49ers have at WR, I love this fit for Stafford.
This comes with the caveat that Ben Roethlisberger retires after this season or the Steelers are willing to have both alphas in there at the same time, but could you imagine a better fit for two sides than Stafford and this receiving unit? Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool provide the deep threat/jump ball (respectively) wideouts Stafford loves throwing it up to and JuJu Smith-Schuster can be his security blanket. Despite a strong season thus far, Roethlisberger is always one snap away from being lost for the season. If the Lions cut Stafford or if Roethlisberger retires or if the Steelers want to swing for the fences, this makes a ton of sense for both sides.
While John Elway still believes in Drew Lock, he's about the only one. The Broncos have some talent at the skill positions on offense and Stafford would elevate it with his powerful arm. The last quality quarterback the Broncos had was a secondhand Peyton Manning. They should try to recreate the magic with Stafford. They could also draft another young quarterback to learn under Stafford and he could be the bridge quarterback to their future while also trying to win.